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Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft. Show all posts

Monday, 11 August 2014

I made a moth!

embroidered moth brooch

This craft project was born out of a weird midnight in-joke that went too far - Something about an enormous, clumsy moth called Caleb that met an untimely demise after an encounter with a bleach-filled toilet... I've been friends with Eleanor for 16 years now, and this is by no means the first of these bizarre characters we've concocted. It was her birthday last week, and I thought that it was the perfect excuse to crack out my embroidery threads and make a moth! I'm a needlework novice, but I'm pretty darn (haha, get it?) proud of this attempt at an embroidered brooch!

summer wrapping paper
innovative gift wrapping
needlework brooch idea

I didn't use a pattern for this, I just used a picture of a moth for reference and then stitched it freehand onto some old felt that I had lying around. I used a safety pin as the brooch closure, although you can buy little brooch pins very cheaply. I am surprised by how intuitive it was, once I started. I mean, the back of the moth looks pretty gnarly but the front looks great, and that's what matters, right? I think that half the battle with these things is threading the needle, and once that's done, you're off and away and you can start to be creative! The hardest bit to do was Caleb's little antennae. I wanted to make sure they were firmly anchored, which meant I had to tie lots and lots of tiny little knots. So fiddly! All in all, he took me a couple of evenings of gentle sewing in front of Australian Masterchef reruns. Best use of my time.

flower crown kimono fashion

Here's Eleanor, being a stylish so-and-so, outfit completed with the addition of Caleb, chillaxing on her boob there. You probably won't be surprised to find out that Eleanor is a costume and performance designer, and she is really bloody good at it. If you're ever in need of a designer for your... performance, hit. her. up. Here's her website! Anyway, she says she loves Caleb very much, and that's encouraged me to do more freestyle embroidery, so watch this space! What should I make next?

It looks a bit like Caleb is in love with Eleanor's dragonfly necklace!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

How to wrap an Easter present!

Easter gift wrap
When I was little, I never finished my Easter eggs - they would still be hanging around in their boxes by the time Christmas came around. So after a while, my parents decided that it would be much more sensible to get me a book or a video (showing my age there...) for Easter. Presents need wrapping, and Easter is a great excuse for some adorable chick or bunny-themed decorations, so let’s get started!
I’ve gathered together some brown wrapping paper, raffia, colourful washi tape, and those iconic little fuzzy chicks that seem to pop up everywhere from the beginning of March. Washi tape is available from most craft shops, as well as places like Paperchase. You can use normal sticky tape, but I think this cheerful stuff makes a nice little statement!
washi tape gift wrap
how to wrap a present
present wrapping chick
Wrap your present as you normally would, and don’t worry too much about it being perfectly neat – you can cover up all manner of sins with cute accessories. (A mantra for life). Tear the washi tape rather than cutting it with scissors as this gives it a more rustic look, which goes well with the brown paper.
raffia for giftwrap
Tie the present with a few strands of raffia so that the bow or knot is on the opposite side to all of the washi tape. I trimmed the ends so that they were all a similar length. Oh no, the little chicklet fell on his face!
fluffy easter chick
Tape the little chick next to the knot in your raffia. It also secures the raffia so it won’t slip off in transit.
Pretty easter gift wrapping
Finish the presents off by writing the recipients’ names on the presents. I chose to just monogram them, using a fine-tipped pen.
Easter gift wrap
These presents are for my little brother and sister who (unlike my childhood self) absolutely LOVE chocolate. I wrapped the chocolate eggs up in this adorable tissue paper which I saved from a recent trip to Tiger. They change their packing paper with the seasons and I always try to save it whenever I buy something from there.
So that’s how I wrapped my presents this Easter. I am obsessed with packaging, wrapping, crafting, and making things lovely, so stay tuned for more seasonal gift-wrapping posts.
Oh and I’d love it if you checked out the article I wrote about blanket-forts (ie my favourite thing in the whole world) over at Mookychick a fabulous alternative online zine with a feminist outlook. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Crafting through anxiety and depression

One of the most common pieces of blogging advice for fashion or lifestyle bloggers is always “keep it positive”, and “don’t use your blog as a platform to vent about your sadness”. The idea is that people read your blog for escapism and they don’t need you to deliver your negativity to them, which makes perfect sense. On the other hand, people read fashion and lifestyle blogs because they feel a connection with the blogger, and I think it is easier to form meaningful connections through honest blogging than being 100% chirpy, all the time. Plus, blogging about issues such as depression or anxiety doesn’t necessarily have to be negative.
crafting through depression
I’ve been an anxious person for as long as I can remember. I spent my childhood convinced that I was going to die from some kind of botched operation and I would wake up sweating from nightmares about dying on an operating table. I cried often, and I obsessed over every perceived failure or inadequacy in my schoolwork, in my social life, with regards to my appearance… the list goes on! (This is where I feel like it’s necessary to let you know that this article isn’t going to have some kind of magical turnaround moment, where I go, “BUT NOW I’M FINE!” because that would be a lie).
crochet girl in park
Being a perfectionist doesn’t mean that you are perfect! Somewhere along the line, saying that you’re a perfectionist has become an arrogant statement – I find this unbelievably ironic because it’s my perfectionism that holds me back more than anything else. Sometimes I feel like if I can’t do something perfectly then it isn’t worth doing… or like I want to see results immediately. This is where craft comes in. Or really, any art form for that matter (and I truly believe that craft IS art). Pick up a crochet hook, chain a few stitches, and HEY LOOK – THERE’S YOUR RESULT! You did it! And you did it all by yourself. It’s the same with painting, with knitting, embroidery, and even cooking. The beautiful thing about creating of any kind is that you have something to show for your effort. Even if it’s the smallest thing, there is a measurable achievement there. And as someone who has a very real problem with leaving this planet having made no mark on it, seeing evidence of achievement, however small, is very important.
retro granny square designs
I’m not saying that crochet cured my anxiety – far from it. But I’ve found something about which I don’t have to feel anxious or depressed. I’ve not made any commitments to anyone to make anything. I’m doing it for myself. And if it’s crap, nobody has to know about it – I can unravel it and start again when I’m feeling better about it. As well as having something to show for my efforts, and having an outlet, creative activities such as cooking, crochet and embroidery give me something to occupy my mind in such a way that it gives me space to sort things out in my head a little bit. It takes the ‘edge’ off in such a way that I can see situations a little bit more objectively than I could otherwise. This has allowed me to prevent panic attacks from time to time, although there is no way that knitting or any other craft would be able to stop a panic attack in its tracks altogether.
easy tart and kale salad recipe
The final verse in this love song to crafts and creation is the aspect of ‘self care’ that they can provide. Making a meal gives me an excuse to feed myself, and to think about all of the nutrition I’m getting from my lovingly prepared food. Making a blanket means that ultimately, I’ll have something to snuggle up in when I’m cold. Embroidering and adorning things makes my environment more beautiful. Sometimes, when I’m feeling at my worst, it’s difficult to look after myself in a direct way, which is why framing it in craft or cooking can be really beneficial.
crochet in nature

So here are my tips for crafting through the pain:

  •         Start very small. Don’t try to sew a king-sized quilt if you’ve never quilted before. Just make a coaster or something.
  •         Don’t tell anyone you’re going to do it. Just try it out. Maybe knitting will turn you into a stress cadet. Perhaps it will give you a sense of satisfaction that you’ve never experienced before!
  •         Don’t feel like you have to craft anything for anyone else.
  •         Only craft things that make you happy. Don’t make a dress if you don’t wear dresses. Don’t cook an omelette if you hate eggs!
  •         There is no such thing as failure in craft. Your worst-case scenario is that you end up with a pan full of burnt eggs or a tiny little holey square of knitting. It’s still something you made!  And nobody needs to know, remember?!
geek in embroidered labcoat science embroidery

I’ve not really touched upon the feminist relationship with craft movements in this article, because I think that it merits a whole article of its own. Still, there’s plenty of discourse on the internet already that makes very compelling arguments about these traditionally ‘feminine’ pursuits. Have you made anything recently? Has craft helped you to form a personal weapon against your anxiety or depression? Let me know!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

"Vacation"... (ha ha ha)

Salut chums,

I packed my life into a cupboard and a box room on Saturday, and moved my sweet self (as well as a pile of books, and a suitcase full of clothes) to Dan's parents' house. I hate moving. I hate how I have to make choices about which of my items I will get to see for the next month, I hate how I have to dismantle all of my picture displays, I hate how I always break at least one of my nails really far down, and it hurts like a SHIT. It puts me in a really bad mood, to move all of my things, and pack them away. I cannot wait until I install myself somewhere at least semi-permanent.

On the other hand, after eight weeks at university, staring at the same four walls, I do become slightly stir crazy. I need constant changes of scenery, which is probably because I lived between two houses from the age of nine until I moved to university. I cannot stay for the whole day inside the house, otherwise I feel like a slob. I have never understood "pyjama days", but many of my friends swear by them as food for the soul.

The change-over between university, and "home" is also irritating in that takes away an entire day. The packing, the moving, the unpacking, and the subsequent EXHAUSTION means that there is no chance of pulling off any productivity on that day. That said, over the last two days, I have added over 600 words to my dissertation, which is something of an achievement since I have had no real direction for it, and no feedback from my supervisor. I have hit a brick wall at the moment, and feel like there isn't much that I can contribute to it until my supervisor has got back to me with some advice as to how I should proceed. I feel like I am writing myself in circles.

On a more positive note, I have rediscovered cross stitch, and have been cross stitching feminist slogans. I will post pictures when I have finished some projects to my satisfaction. The good weather, and the copious amounts of blossom everywhere has cheered me immensely, and I cannot wait until the end of exams, so that I can start to enjoy all of the things that the outside world has to offer me!
A photo I took of blossoms near college.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Procrastination.

Although I have a french exam tomorrow, a three hour long exam encompassing every piece of literature ever written about the Great War on Friday morning, and another exam on Friday afternoon, on the Old Testament, I am still procrastinating. This worries me greatly, it really does... But for some reason, finding artwork for every single song on my iTunes library seems like a priority at the moment. As does updating a blog that nobody reads, at 1 in the morning, the night before an exam en francais...

Alors, what has been on my mind most of all today (aside from my hideous inability to focus my mind on revision) are my plans for when these wretched exams are actually over. Here is how my summer looks at the moment:

June 19th: Last two exams! at 3 O clock, I will be free!!
June 20th-21st: A trip to Stratford to see some Shakespeare plays, as a little end of exams treat! A group of us are going, and staying in a B&B.
June 23rd: My friend Tasha is having her birthday party. It is a fancy dress affair, and I love to dress up. So I had better get cracking with my idea... SO EXCITING!
June 25th: My french group are going out for lunch with our teachers. Yay!
June 27th: The official school leavers' day, and the Ball! I have my dress for that already but i need to get it altered slightly, because it is slightly too long.
June 28th: Another party! I have a feeling this one might be quite exciting, because the girl's parents are mailing out the invitations...! Also, this is the day my Dad, Brother, Sister, and stepmum all move to France for ever. :(
June 30th-ish: My Grade 8 Oboe exam... and I thought the exams were over... I am so nervous about this one. today I did a hardcore oboe practice session, spending an hour on ONE Bach Study... :(
July 3rd-12th: Orchestra stuff! I will be on tour in Italy, and then home to do the final concert, and then up to Birmingham for the Music for Youth festival...
August 6th: It is my friend Eleanor's birthday. I have been at every single one of her birthdays for the last nine years, I think! Imagine that!
August 14th: RESULTS DAY. OH MY GOSH. I don't want to spend the whole of the previous evening checking the UCAS website to see if they have updated it telling me if I got my place at Cambridge, or not.
August 15th-(September 28th): I am going to Australia to visit my family! I haven't seen them since I was fourteen... Which is quite a while considering how much growing and changing as a person you do, between the ages of fourteen and eighteen.

So that is my summer... I hope it all goes to plan. I really do. The only other thing keeping me going through these exams, and the guilt at having not sufficiently prepared, is the thought of all of the craft activities I am going to undertake as soon as my exams are over. And the novels I shall read! I am planning to read the second book in The Cornish Trilogy. And I have been recommended 'The Master And Margarita', which was originally in Russian. I might read it, or I might not, depending upon how heavy going it is, and how frazzled my poor brain is! I want to knit a long long scarf! And I want to make a menagerie of felt animals, and a bag for myself, and a skirt...

Oh and here is the link to this woman's photos:

PaperNest

She gave me the idea of making heart shaped rainbow crayons.

And on that note, sleep beckons...

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

EXAMS!

Oh My Gosh.

At the moment, I am definitely the most stressed I have been in a long time. I haven't sent any posts for a while, because I have been so busy with my school work and things like that.

I did find time to go on a music camp though. I know, I know... band camp, and all of that... but it was actually really fun. What is odd about it though is that it is surrounded by this kind of enigma. I can't quite put my finger on it, but all of the people who run it seem to be interlinked in ways I don't understand. It is held in the grounds of this farmhouse owned by some people who just... invite a bunch of people to stay there and make music in their barn. It all sounds rather suspect to me, but it is an opportunity to eat cake twice a day and play my oboe for seven hours at at time, so I'm not complaining.

We played Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, and Sibelius;' Symphony 1. They are both wonderful pieces of music. I love Elgar with a PASSION, and the Sibelius can obly really be described as sublime.

Here are some pictures from Camp:
The top picture is of me and my friend Claire. Underneath that is a picture of the oboe section! hurrah! And the one jsut above here ^ is of the whole orchestra!!

I found an amazing person today, on Flickr. Yes, I have a flickr account too... This person's username thing is PaperNest, and I really recommend you check her stuff out. She takes lovely pictures of pretty things, and it doesn't feel pretentious at all, like some photography does.

I was going to be all clever and do linkage so you could look at her stuff, but my computer is being weird. maybe next time.